Cyberbullying: Are We (the Parents) to Blame?

Written on October 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm , by

It’s an absolutely heartbreaking story—yet another youth, in this case 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick of Winter Haven, Florida, commits suicide after being relentlessly bullied online for months by her classmates.

But this time there’s a new twist to the lurid headlines: The local sheriff arrested two girls, ages 14 and 12, charging them with felony aggravated stalking after a message appeared in the Facebook feed of the older girl that read, “Yes Ik I bullied RECECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF” [translation: “I don’t give a (expletive)”]. The girl’s parents said someone had hacked into her FB account, but the sheriff isn’t buying it. In fact, he says he’d put them in jail if he could for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

You may think he’s gone way too far. Or you may feel he’s right on the mark. Either way, the sheriff has turned the spotlight and focused it on parents and their culpability when it comes to cyberbullying. When you stop and think about it, this has been the elephant in the room, the unspoken, taboo topic amid all the tragic teen suicides in the news: To what degree are parents to blame when their children become taunters, tormentors, emotional abusers and worse?

Normally in this space we chat about things moms should discuss with their children. Perhaps this is a topic we should start talking about with each other.

26 Responses to “Cyberbullying: Are We (the Parents) to Blame?”

  1. It is absolutely something we should be talking about.

    A large percentage of kids who bully have bully parents. Some don’t so we have to be careful to not label all parents.
    But it definitely shows that there is a need for parents to be vigilant in their kids online behavior. I would say school, but that is actually harder to monitor.
    Kids are susceptible to group mentality and a lot of bullying happens because of that. Parents can help with that.

    But let’s just be honest. Everyone knows a jerk kid who has jerk parents. We’ve all had to interact with that mom at the playground or PTO who is just mean. You know the one. The one that talks badly about other parents, their kids, tries to not include everyone, encourages their kid to win at all costs, etc.

    Bullying is learned.

  2. I believe that it is for sure the parents fault. You need to be the example and not be your child’s friend. People nowadays are so preoccupied with their own lives they have little time to parent. I think when your child is online there should be strict guidelines they should follow and you need to be watching what they are doing.
    If we as parents do a better job with our children teaching them that it’s wrong to bully and that there is consequences to every action we take then we are doing the right thing for them and making them better citizens.

  3. I was bullied as a kid by my daycare worker’s son. He was several years older than me, and he made life at the daycare so miserable I actually tried running away back to my house. I told on him to his mom. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Not my son. My son would never do that. You are a pathetic little liar.” I was six. She is still the worst parent I personally know. Yes, she should have been held responsible for her son’s bullying because she knew about it, covered for him, and allowed him to continue.

    I do think we need to be careful though because sometime kids act out no matter what the parents do.

  4. I have worked with suicidal teens for 15 years. I can tell you that parents on both sides are the primary causes of a cyber bullying suicide.

    Another cause is the culture and society itself.

    Yes, the parents of the “bully” are not doing their jobs to create empathetic humans, but also the parents of the victim have not provided adequate emotional support. I have written about the Megan Meier case and how the mother failed to give her daughter emotional support in the fatal final moments. The mother was focused on the daughter obeying the mother and not using bad language, rather than listening to, validating and understanding her daughter and her feelings.

  5. I do agree that parents can play a role in bullying. I was bullied as a child at home and at school. The school bullying started with the exclusion then by 4th grade, it became physical. My aunt, who raised me, knew about it but blamed me. She said I talked too much. And on the homefront, her son, my cousin, teased me relentlessly. I would tell her. She simply responded with, “Is it true?” “Do you have a pig nose?” I would answer no. That was the end of it.

    Well, fast forward to my son in second grade. I discovered that he had become the recipient of taunting. I contacted the teacher but I also told him my story. Then we enrolled him in a social skills camp. We also illustrated to him what healthy boundaries look like and told him to never give his power away. We empathized with the rejection he felt but had him to put the classmates in perspective–who are they? Other 8 year olds. Are they God? No. Do they provide for you? No. This was designed to take away their illusion of significance. We role played with him–if this happens–what are your options? We also ensured that he was included in other social circles–which diminished their outcasting–they did not favor him, but he was well liked by others.

    Now he is a black belt. He has the know-how to protect himself.

    But most importantly, we make sure that his “love tank” is full–utilizing the book, “The Five Love Languages for Children” by Gary Chapman.

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